Friday, February 1, 2019

January 2019 Doings!

I'm not going to lie, y'all: it's a small miracle that this is up on time. This week — this whole month — has been a cycle of super chill days abruptly dissolving into obscenely frantic and packed ones. (Part of this is my fault; if I don't have a deadline for a project, or if the deadline is far away and the task is small, I'm very easily distracted. However, it's also partially due to the fact that professors and other people keep saying "Oh, here's this project; it's due in two class periods; have fun!" . . . and they do this on weekends when I'm already busy with other stuff.) Anyway. Let's get on with the Doings!


  • I . . . did not actually meet my writing goal for the month of January, in the sense that I didn't write 300 words per day, five days a week. I did write a ton for the first week or so because I had to finish up my short stories for my Actual Writing Job. Thankfully, I got those sent in on time, the client liked them, and I should be getting money pretty soon.
  • The rest of the month, though? I was so burned out that I didn't touch anything creative until halfway through the month after my first Mechanical Heart beta got back to me. At that point, I started doing a little bit of on-and-off work on the end of Mechanical Heart; basically, I figured out that I really needed to rearrange some scenes at the end for the story to work properly. So, I've been doing that and trying to get it sorted out before I look at the rest of my beta feedback.
  • Thankfully, almost all of my betas have gotten back to me! And I'm almost done with the last piece I'm rearranging! So as soon as I finish that, I can really jump into beta-inspired edits.
  • Oh! And the Year of Snow White Facebook party was just the other night! That was super fun! I ran an online game of Bring Your Own Book, which went pretty well . . . aside from the fact that my computer crashed halfway through the night and wouldn't restart for twenty minutes. That was frustrating. But the rest of the evening was great!


  • This was actually a really fabulous reading month in terms of how many books I actually read. In terms of the quality of those books . . . it's a little iffier, but it got better as the month went on.
  • We'll start with the highlights of the month — obviously, the two Invisible Library novels I read and reread. The Lost Plot was just as good on the reread as it was the first time around — in fact, it might've been made better by anticipation of exactly what I was getting into. As for The Mortal Word, AAAHHHHHHH IT WAS SO AWESOME!!!! All my favorite characters were in one place! And there were murders! And fae! And dragons! Basically, it was all the reasons I love the series stuffed into one book.
  • The third major highlight of the month was the latest Fellowship of Fantasy anthology, Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales, a set of cat-themed short stories. As always, some of the stories were better than others, but all of them were delightful in some fashion. My absolute favorite was H.L. Burke's "Whisker-Width" . . . though I may be a little biased there due to the fact that I want the plot of that story to happen to me!
  • Moving on to the next level of books, the ones that were great but not quite my favorites of the month: The Last Motley, while not a perfect book, was a fun adventure with plenty of twists and turns. I can see why so many of my friends rate it so highly! Fairest Son was a lovely Snow White retelling from a friend of mine; it could've been a little longer, but overall it was delightful. I also enjoyed K. M. Shea's Beauty and the Beast — of course, I'm always down for a good retelling of my favorite fairy tale, so no surprise there! All That We See or Seem was good as well, once I figured out that it was more romance than adventure, and West was an exciting but emotionally-frustrating sequel to East.
  • In the middle ground, we have three books: H. L. Burke's Coiled, Lea Doue's Mirrors and Pearls, and Hannah Moskowitz's Salt. All of these were good books, just not great. Coiled was a lovely retelling of Cupid and Psyche featuring two cursed princes and two cursed princesses. Mirrors and Pearls was a fun Snow White retelling, albeit one that could've been fleshed out a little more. Salt had fun sibling relationships and monster-slaying, but was a little frustrating at times.
  • And, finally, we have three books that disappointed me: one by no fault of its own, one by overly high expectations, and one because I absolutely should not have picked it up in the first place. First up: Sarah Addison Fox's Disowned. Now, don't get the wrong idea. Disowned is not a bad book by any means. People who aren't me have rated it very highly, and in hindsight, I understand why. Here's the thing, though: what I knew of the rest of the series led me to expect something with adventure and intrigue and constant danger. Disowned does not have those things. The first half of the book primarily concerns the growing relationships between Celeste and the family that takes her in, with a healthy dose of angst on Celeste's part. It's not bad in and of itself, and I will read the second book in the series to see if it's more like what I expected. (Plus, with indie books, the second book in a series is almost always better than the first one.) I just kind of feel like I was the victim of false advertising or something. Or maybe I just needed to read more reviews. I don't know.
  • Moving on! Next up, the book for which I might have had overly high expectations: Brandon Sanderson's Legion anthology. Again, this wasn't a bad book in and of itself. The first two short story/novellas in the anthology are actually quite good. They have everything you'd expect from Sandersons' work: colorful characters, exciting plots, cool magic (in this case, more like cool technology, but you know what I mean), and fascinating twists. The third story also has these things, but it ended in a very frustrating and unsatisfying fashion.
  • As for Trail of Lightning: It has content that's somewhat more adult than I really wanted to experience. It's very dark. The main character angsts too much and trusts too little. There's more blood and gore than I expected or was comfortable with. The magic system was super weird and confusing. The only things it had going for it were that it was based on Navajo myths and that it was basically a Western fantasy dystopia. So, basically: plenty of potential, but not enough of that potential came through.
  • Oh, and I acquired a lot of books this month! Rosalie sent me a copy of her latest Ticket to Write book, and I won a copy of Because  . . . Anonymous from Diana L. Sharples. Then I bought a lot of ebooks . . . including a preorder of Honor: A Quest In, which you should all go preorder now. Trust me; I beta-read it and it's awesome.
  • That said, I didn't read any old books this month. I fully intended to; it just . . . didn't happen. Oh well.


  • Good news: I am no longer completely behind on the best movies of the MCU! By which I mean that I finally watched Black Panther, almost a year after it came out. Should I have watched it sooner? Yes. Was it awesome? Yes. Is it my new favorite Marvel movie? No. But it is my second favorite! The characters were great (even though I would've been really confused about 75% of the names if I hadn't seen so much about it on the internet first)! The plot was exciting! The themes were excellent! Basically, I have nothing bad to say about it (except the name thing), but Thor: Ragnarok is still my favorite. It also has all those things, plus it has one of my favorite final battle scenes in any movie. So, yeah.
  • That said, Shuri is a fabulous science princess and I love her and she's amazing. And I loved that we had scenes with her and T'Challa being sibling-ly. We need more awesome sibling teams of all kinds.
  • I also watched the rest of Season 1 of Doctor Who, and I'd like to say thank you to everyone who told me to stick with it; I quite enjoyed the rest of the season! I ended up skipping episode 8 ("Father's Day") because I'm not crazy about the trope it seems to be founded on. I also ended up watching the last five episodes out of order — people who aren't my roommate and I didn't want to watch the Empty Child episodes at night, so we watched episodes 11, 12, and 13, and then my roommate and I backtracked to watch episodes 9 and 10 . . . which weren't actually that scary, but were pretty cool. Of course, I also knew spoilers, so that probably contributed. Also, Jack Harkness makes almost everything better. He's a mess, yes. But he's a fun mess who fits multiple of my favorite character tropes.
  • Now we're in Season Two with Tennant, two episodes in, and I'm back to not knowing how I feel about anything. Tennant is a Doctor I've heard a lot about, and I know he's there for a while . . . but he showed up just as I'd finally gotten used to Eccleston's Doctor. I don't know.
  • That said, speaking of things that I like better in the second half of the season: the Alfheim Online part of Sword Art Online is fabulous. Much less angst, a really cool world, and a more connected plot all helped keep me more engaged. I mean, the whole subplot with Leafa/Suguha's crush was annoying, but still. My roommate and I finished it two nights ago and I was pretty satisfied with the climax.
  • And now we can finally return to Fairy Tail and hopefully get through all the completed arcs of that by the end of the semester. After that, we might watch the second season of Sword Art Online, but that's still a long way away.


I knitted these for the people who got signed copies of Blood in the Snow. I'm super happy with how they turned out.
  • I'm going to be honest: I don't remember a lot of what happened this month. I need to start writing these posts over the course of the month instead of doing the whole thing at the very end.
  • The first week of January was pretty chill, other than the fact that I had so much writing to do. At least, I'm pretty sure it was.
  • College started back up the second week of January. My schedule is interesting; I'm in class from dawn to dusk (literally) Monday and Friday, I have normal class hours Wednesday, and I have nothing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm sure that contributes to my feeling of either being completely chill or completely stressed; hopefully, I can find a better balance as the semester goes on. I am really enjoying several of my classes, though. Web Design is cool because I realized I know more about it than I thought; my blogs and forums gave me a little bit of a jumpstart with the basics of HTML, so now it's just a matter of expanding that knowledge and keeping all the tags and terms in place. Plus, I can work ahead, which is super nice.
  • Both of my Honors seminars are going well, especially Artificial Intelligence. I'm pretty sure that I get more story ideas every week; at this rate, I'll have at least half a dozen science fantasy concepts ready to be expanded into full stories! Oddly, my actual PWID classes are my least favorite in my schedule — which isn't to say that I hate them, but one is a lot of theory and group work (stressful for obvious reasons) and the other is basically on one of my least favorite parts of the writing and design process. So, yeah. They aren't my favorite classes I've ever had.
  • I also learned that I do not like leadership conferences, mostly because they tend to tell me stuff I already know. Or, at least, that's what happened at the one I attended this month — it's hosted by the university, and all org officers are required to attend. It was a very frustrating, stressful, exhausting experience.
  • D&D is still going strong, thankfully. We lost a few people, but we also gained some new members, one of whom is a good friend of mine from my hall. I also think that I'm getting better at playing as my character instead of playing as me or just doing what seems like the most strategic option. (Admittedly, my character's personality is fairly similar to mine, but there are some differences.) So, yeah. That's a generally good time.
  • Also, this week was so cold that the college literally shut down on Wednesday. I enjoyed the day off, but I would like spring, please. I know that's not going to happen, but . . . I can dream, right? (And if you live in Minnesota or Chicago or somewhere that's even more horribly cold, yes, I know, you had it worse. Just let me be miserable in peace, please; I'm not used to this.)

February Plans!

  • I really, really hate February, ok? It's the shortest month, but it always feels like the longest. I'm pretty sure that has something to do with the fact that it's the coldest month and hot things move faster than cold things and all that. There's a very scientific reason, that's all I'm saying.
  • I also expect that my workload will start amping up pretty soon. (In some respects it already has, but you know.) Odds are high that I'll be spending a considerable amount of time either in group project meetings or arguing with Adobe Captivate. (It's not the easiest Adobe program I've ever worked with, ok? And all the other programs are fairly intuitive; once you know one, you can figure out all of them. But Captivate acts more like Word or Powerpoint, and it's just . . . ugh. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it, but it's taking me a whole lot longer than it usually would.)
  • And when I'm not working on something for a class? I'll be editing Mechanical Heart, trying to get it polished and submitted to the Golden Braids group release before Kendra gets another steampunk Rapunzel retelling that she likes better. That's my goal for the month: do something with Mechanical Heart every day until it's finished. It doesn't matter if I edit one paragraph or five chapters, just as long as I make progress. I would make a time-based goal, but that feels like a risky proposition right now since my schedule is so wacky and will probably get weirder as the month goes on.
  • As far as reading goes, I don't have any particular plans, but I now need to read two old books instead of just one. I still hope to read The Four Loves so I can ask intelligent questions about it in one of my honors seminars. As for the other . . . I haven't decided yet. Any suggestions?
How was your January? Any fun plans for February? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  


  1. That's a lot of books. I'm glad your sticking with Doctor Who, it only gets better. Tennant is my favorite doctor, but it always takes a few episodes to get used to the new doctor.

  2. I have so far received a Meso-American Rapunzel and an Urban Fantasy Rapunzel. But do hurry 'cause I can make no promises of what else will show up in the next month...

    1. I'm working as fast as I can, but I just went through all the beta comments I've received, and I have more hefty revisions to do. :P

  3. You sound like you're having such an intense time with college and everything!!! go you for keeping up with it all and working so hard. πŸ’›And I was curious about Trail of Lightning but it's not like on my immediate list or anything haha. I did LOVE Salt but I also wanted so much more from it?! It seemed to skim so much stuff that it could've gone into and made the characters way more complex and full of depth. Aajfkslad anyway good luck with the writing and getting your story all finished and tidied up!! (Also February is WAY too short and I always try to do 31 days of work in 28 and then cry. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)

    1. Thanks! Yeah, Salt could've been longer, but I was ok with the way it was. The shortness fit the feel of the book well. (And yes, I have the same problem. Minus the crying, and plus ranting.)
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. The books you're reading sound really interesting! Especially Coiled and West. I'll have to check those out. of course, with West, I'll have to read East first, but it's been on my list for a while.

    1. I'm surprised you haven't read East and West yet — well, East. It seems very much the type of book you'd enjoy.

    2. If I'm right in thinking they're retellings of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, then it's definitely surprising I haven't read them yet. :)


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